Listening - A Powerful Love Language
Updated: Dec 19, 2020
Listening has become a forgotten skill in our society today. Deep, intentional listening is not easy and it takes patience and lots of practice. We are more skilled at expressing ourselves verbally and airing our views. When it comes to family relationships, misunderstandings often arise because we are not really listening to one another. Family relationships break down when we use our mouths more than our ears and we are not consciously trying to hear what the other person is saying.
We don’t need any lessons on what to say but we sure could improve on our listening skills so we can connect with others on a deeper level.
With regards to our teens and young adults, when we deliberately hold back our words and ramp up our listening, this communicates value to them as we show interest in who they are and what they have to say. We expect them to listen to us, but we fail to use our ears and we excel at using our mouths.
If we want to really connect, we need to make a paradigm shift in how we communicate effectively with others. There is a reason why God gave us two ears and one mouth!
“We fail to use our ears and we excel at using our mouths.”
Ways to deepen listening skills:
1. Listen with your eyes
A wonderful skill to practice is to make eye contact and pay close attention to understanding facial expressions and body language. Take note of changes in voice tone, eye movements, shoulders drooping, hand motions and other cues that show mood and feelings. Be sensitive to changes in mood which is a signal to stop and try something different. There is normally a reason why teens or young adults push away from parents. It may be that they need some space and your timing to have a certain conversation needs to be reconsidered.
Phones are becoming a big problem as people are communicating with one another with their heads down or their eyes on a screen. Sometimes parents are to blame and kids pick up bad habits so parents need to set boundaries with regards to using phones at certain times and making time for family gatherings and meal times without phone distractions.
Changes in body language and facial expressions alert parents to respond appropriately and to reassess the situation when needed.
2. Listen without speaking
“Be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry.” I often ponder over this bible verse in the book of James. It is so wonderfully wise! When we are quick to listen, then our focus is on listening and when we are focused on listening, we are less inclined to be thinking of what we want to say. As a result, we are less likely to get angry because our focus is on understanding and empathizing as we practice active listening. Deep, intentional listening helps us to keep calm, more controlled, avoid misunderstandings and prevents the conversation from getting out of hand.
When we have spent time listening intently, we are more likely to choose our words more carefully as we speak with more understanding and empathy. We are less likely to speak words of regret that show ignorance and lack of attention. When we are slow to speak, then we interrupt less. Allowing our teens to speak is a powerful gift we can give to them as we show how valuable and significant they are in our lives.
I often need to tell myself to “shut up.”
"Allowing others to speak is a powerful gift."